All children love
Christmas time and St George's orphans were no different to any other in
that respect. Miss Knocker and her staff made every effort to make it a
happy time for all of the children who were away from their families.
The warm and close relationship that St George's House had with St
Andrew's Police Convalescent Home, located 'next door', was never more
apparent than at Christmas time. The children usually always stayed at
St George's during the Christmas holiday period and one of the
traditions carried out every year was the 'Stirring of the Christmas
Pudding' during the evening, at St George's. Miss Knocker would invite
the St Andrew's police 'inmates' to come over to St George's. The
children, staff and men would all assemble in the Senior Girls'
Playroom, the fireplace was lit and each child would be called up to the
huge mixing bowl to stir the pudding mix with large wooden spoons. If
there was a policeman present from the child's Force, he would be called
up to mix the pudding with the relevant child. All of the men and
children were involved, stirring the mix and making a wish.
St George's House at Christmas time
Christmas was a wonderful time at St George's,
every year Miss Knocker would prepare a hand written Christmas Calendar
of Events and activities, which was huge and displayed in the Hall for all to see,
amongst which were
Christmas Church services.
A Christmas Carol event held in the Assembly Room.
Various Police Force Concert Parties coming to St George's and
performing for the children in the Gym.
The children each writing a letter to Father Christmas requesting a
The Childrens own Christmas Party, where small presents would be
exchanged between children.
Games to be played in the Gym: musical chairs, reel dancing and other
Film shows for the children.
Magic Lantern Slide Shows, usually about trips to foreign lands etc.
Posting letters to Father Christmas.
Left side: Tom Berry & Rhoda Smith the other two
On Christmas morning, instead of being awakened at 6.20am by a bell
ringing, Miss Knocker, dressed as Father Christmas, would blow a horn
at the top of the main staircase and when washed and dressed, bedside
prayers said, both boys and girls would gather at the staircase and at a
further blowing of the horn, we would run around our separate wings
searching for our name tagged Christmas stockings, which the staff had
hidden around the house on Christmas Eve night. On one occasion one boy
still hadn't found his stocking by the time the breakfast bell had rung.
After breakfast we were all sent outside to see if the Postman was
calling on us, it was then the boy eventually found his stocking, which
was on the top of the flagpole on the top turret of St George's
At breakfast, on each side plate, there would be coins with little slips
of paper telling us that 1/-s, 2/-s, 3/-s etc had been donated to each
child by a particular Police Force. The money would be held in the
office by Miss Adams, under the name of each child, to be used for
After tea on Christmas Day, we all gathered in
the Gym and a man, dressed in Father Christmas outfit, would hand out
presents to the children from a huge Christmas tree on the stage.
These gifts were officially paid for by what would have been the
equivalent of St George's Police Trust, as it is now, the present was
usually what the child had asked for in the letter to Santa Claus. Other
gifts from the childrens families were also distributed, every child receiving one, even if
they had no surviving parents.
The St Andrew's policemen were also invited to attend our Police Concerts, our
Christmas Parties, Christmas Dance and our Christmas Present evening, in
fact the role of Father Christmas was more often than not carried out by
one of the St Andrew's men. On all of these occasions the children
were permitted to mix freely with the policemen, to chat and laugh and
many remember those times with great fondness.Many children felt that
they were their 'fathers' for the day.
The association with St Andrew's carries on to this day through the Old
boys and Old girls, who meet for coffee every year at St Andrew's, after their main
annual reunion at the Majestic, Harrogate.
Invitation to St Andrew's
Practice tasting of Christmas pudding
The official mixing of Christmas pudding
Older children decorating the rooms
Christmas carol singing
Out on the toboggans
The attraction of Christmas
the night before Christmas.....
Opening the stockings
Time for a snowball fight
Trudging back home through
The religious influence showing through on our Christmas card
The Christmas Story
reproduced below was written for the Harrogate Grammar School magazine,
Summer 1946 edition, by
John Milburn, St George's child number 490 at age 14
years 1 month.
The 1946 magazine.
John G. Milburn 490. Photo taken 1976.
joined the Police Force (possibly Northumberland) and quickly rose
the ranks to become the youngest Inspector in his Force. When he
took on the role as publican of The Rising Sun in Christchurch, Dorset.
John had a brother
Tom, and two sisters, Evelyn & Margaret (Peggy).
This magazine kindly
supplied by St George's supporters, Clarrie & Mollie East.
Mollie, an old girl of Harrogate Grammar School, recalls that St
attending HGS, were allowed to wear their blue uniforms instead of the
brown school uniform. Her maiden name was Mollie Hugill and she left HGS
Shown below is a
1947 Christmas card sent by Miss Knocker to the Bracken family
This is an example of a
Christmas postcard sent by the Bracken children
to their mother Hannah Bracken, it was supplied to them by the Lady
Superintendent of that time, Miss Emma Chapman.
During the war years
times were hard, nevertheless we recall Christmas time at St George's
with great feelings of happiness and delight. The pent up excitement
when we waited outside the Gymnasium (the children's stockings were all tied to the monkey bars and the
climbing ropes, and hidden in all manner of places) then, with
permission, to rush in and search for a stocking with ones name on it, was
both exhilarating and memorable.